I first paint the ship to look
like it has been freshly painted. Then I take separate batches of color
that have been lightened or darkened and slightly mottle the color-
lighter for highlights and darker for shadow areas and depressions- just
to add depth. Then I add darker washes to further accent details, followed
by dry brushing with a lighter color for highlights. I've noticed that
hulls and splinter shields of ships that have been at sea
for extended periods are lighter on the bottoms. I've finally concluded
that this is from buildup of salt deposits- spray hits the plates and the
water evaporates as it drips down leaving salts and mineral deposits on
the lower portions. The same goes for hulls where the swell runs along the
less pronounced the higher you get. Decks have traffic areas where the
paint is kept closer to fresh by the wear from the crew's shoes.
Non-traffic areas have more oxidation and are lighter. Runoff from the
upper decks will stain the lower decks, too. After I get the paint faded
the way I want it then I'll go ahead and give it a coat of flat clear to
seal that step in preparation for the next step...rust. I like to use
water colors. I have a 10-color kid's set that I use all the time. Just
mix black, browns, white, yellow and orange in varying amounts using the
inside of the paint set lid for a palette. Use less water so it doesn't
just bead up when you apply the paint.
You have to remember that it
isn't all rust either. There is also oil from machinery, paint oxidation
that washes off and plain old grime. Look at old cars and trucks for
inspiration if you can't get to a marina or harbor to see real ships or
work boats. Rust is rust.
You can apply the water colors
heavily as long as the tints and tones are about what you're looking for.
Put them on with a larger brush or cotton swab. Apply it a little heavier
where water is most likely to drain or where things might rub together-
hawse pipes, for instance. After these are dry, I'll go back with
moistened swabs (water or Windex) and erase most of the watercolor.
This is where you pull it back to
make it subtle. You can leave it heavier in some places to represent areas
where heavy rust builds up; very faint like it's just a stain; or erase it
completely where you've changed your mind. The clear coat protects the
base paint. Then I'll do a little more dry brushing with the original or
lighter base color to put back in the highlights.
Finally, I lightly airbrush
around the rust areas with the original and lighter base colors to further
take the edge off the rust. The way I look at it, rust doesn't occur all
at once and it has different effects in different areas. There is also a
difference between areas where rust and grime have been deposited and
where paint has gotten water under it and rusted through. Going back and
forth with the base colors and rust gives the impression that the rust has
built up over time.
I would also advise against
heavily weathering and rusting the upper works. Deck crews are usually
tasked to chasing those areas down and keeping them as shipshape as
possible depending on service conditions- even under way. There are
exceptions, of course, especially in northern areas of the Atlantic and
Pacific oceans. Faded paint is common but rust is usually dealt with
promptly. They can't get at the hull until they anchor somewhere and can
put a chair over the side.
If you are doing a full-hull
ship, don't forget the barnacles and paint fading there, too. I had a hard
drive crash and lost the URL and pics of the Spruance class DD that
got rammed, but there were excellent references for hull weathering on
that site. Mix up some paint that is dark green (almost black), lower your
air pressure, open the nozzle and splatter the barnacles on. I apply them
a little heavier along the waterline and in depressions to add depth.
Remember to mask the hull above where the water normally reaches.
By the , using watercolors like
this also works for oil stains and fuel spills around filler caps on
aircraft. Of course, these tips work better on larger scales. The
important thing is to keep weathering subtle or it will overwhelm all of
your other modeling efforts. Exercise restraint. Too little weathering is
better than too much.